Braintree: Fans pay parking fee as game is called off

ANGRY football fans have slammed council bosses for charging them for car parking even though the fixture was cancelled.

Officials called off the FA Cup first-round clash at Braintree Town on Sunday just 60 minutes before kick-off because of a water-logged pitch.

Hundreds of supporters of League One leaders Tranmere Rovers, who had travelled almost 250 miles south for the cup tie, had been directed to a Braintree District Council-owned car park in Lakes Road near the ground.

They were charged �5 to leave their cars but when they found out the game had been called off they returned to their vehicles expecting a refund.

However council staff said that they had been ordered only to offer a 50% refund.

One furious fan of the Merseyside team said: “It took us four hours to get down here and we faced the same trek back home.

“But we were only in the car park for a few minutes and yet the council insisted on keeping half the charge. It was mean and petty.”

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The match was postponed by referee Dean Whitestone after torrential rain left much of the Amlin Stadium pitch under water.

Covers had been on the Cressing Road pitch since the previous Tuesday and were only removed just over an hour before kick-off.

The high water table, together with an inch of rain in four hours, saw the playing surface waterlogged.

Braintree Town were in line to make an additional �63,000 from the game, due to the tie being aired on ITV, however it is thought the TV company is still keen to cover the fixture.

Councillor David Bebb, Braintree District Council’s cabinet member for performance and efficiency, said: “The council offers its sincere apologies to those supporters who had paid to use the car park (12 vehicles) before notice of the match cancellation was given.

“On the day, as we had already put in place extra staff and resources to accommodate visiting fans driving to the match, staff operating the car park considered a 50% refund fair compensation for a situation which was outside of the council’s control.

“In the light of criticism, we will review such a decision for future matches.”

The rearranged FA Cup tie will be played on Tuesday, November 13, and the winners will go on to play at home against League Two side Chesterfield in December.

Braintree Town is also offering refunds to supporters who are unable to attend the rescheduled fixture.

Those wanting a refund should send their ticket, intact, with a stamped addressed envelope by Friday to Ticket Office – Refunds, Braintree Town Football Club, The Amlin Stadium, Clockhouse Way, Braintree, Essex, CM7 3RD.

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